Organized crime is a phenomenon that transcends borders and cultures; it's a universal, nefarious practice that's as diverse as it is common. Gangs exist all around the world, often violently at odds with one another over turf and money. They're so interesting that they're the subject of movies, music, and television shows, and pop culture does a good job of illustrating what gangs are willing to do to their rivals. From offing the competition in drive-by shootings to putting enemies' heads in vices until they talk, the details of what gang members do can be extremely shocking.
What is underrepresented, however, is what people do to get into gangs. These young recruits are willing to do whatever it takes to show their loyalty, which often means subjecting themselves to injury and humiliation. These gang rituals are frequently just as horrifying as the transgressions they commit against their rivals. As this list shows, these brutal gang initiations are often more violent and f*cked up than you could imagine.
The Junky Funky Kids Face A Gauntlet Of Pain
The Junky Funky Kids - or the less-fun-sounding JFKs for short - are a large and active gang in the Lavender Hill neighborhood of Cape Town, South Africa. As the JFKs seek supremacy in the area's drug trade, they often find themselves at war with the rival Bostons and Corner Boys gangs over turf, oftentimes resulting in violence and death.
The initiation rite for the Junky Funky Kids prepares recruits for this endless turf war by making them venture through a unique obstacle course. During this ritual, current members stand in two parallel lines, facing each other, holding belts, chains, and wooden planks, while the new members are made to run through this gauntlet, absorbing the gashes and beatings they receive along the way.
The Taitung Crime Syndicates Throw Lit Fireworks At New Recruits
In Taitung County, Taiwan, local crime syndicates have long engaged in illegal practices like money laundering and racketeering. They adhere to the standard hierarchical roles of "bosses" and "subordinates" found in any other form of business. Beginning in the 1970s, however, these local organizations began using an interesting new interview technique to see who was cut out to be a mob boss.
The Taitung tradition known as "Bombarding Master Handan" is a centuries-old practice where locals throw fireworks at a shirtless man assuming the role of the deity. Dressed in a mask with little other protection, the inductee is subjected to the firecrackers as a way of honoring the god and ensuring wealth and prosperity.
What is surely a painful display for the inductee is seen by local crime bosses as a way of weeding weak people out. Whoever lasts the longest gets a promotion, and probably some burns and hearing loss.